Ingenuity Among the Dead

Thursday Verseday with Arlinda

T.S. Eliot once wrote “no poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists. You cannot value him alone; you must set him, for contrast and comparison, among the dead.” While the statement may seem slightly morbid, the notion of poets and artists drawing inspiration from the past is still very alive. As writers, we are constantly looking to the past: what has been written and what are we going to write? We twist the confines of the past to form new tales, retellings of old stories, and various adaptations of previous art.

Edgar Allen Poe’s poem “Annabel Lee” was published in 1849, and more recently it was used as the inspiration for Cassandra Claire’s newest edition to her fantasy series, The Dark Artifices: Lady Midnight. Poe’s poem portrayed the immense connection formed within love and felt even after that love is ripped away. In Poe’s poem, the speaker states, “And neither the angels in heaven above/ Nor the demons down under the sea/ Can ever dissever my soul from the soul/ Of the beautiful ANNABEL LEE.” These lines became the basis for the mystery surrounding Cassandra Claire’s novel.

In Cassandra Claire’s novel The Dark Artifices: Lady Midnight, she plays on the elements of fantasy to create a world in which angel warriors called shadowhunters separated a warlock from his true love Annabel Lee, and buried her in a tomb in which he could only access in an underwater cave surrounded by demons. Edgar Allen Poe’s poem was incorporated into the novel as the explanation for the villain’s driving force throughout the story.


It has been over 150 years since Edgar Allen Poe’s “Annabel Lee” was published, and still it lives on in the works of authors such as Cassandra Claire. Although Poe died many years ago, his works are still appreciated and valued in literature today. We constantly find inspiration in works written by poets that have long since died, but the creativity they produced still lives on. As writers and artists, we look to the past to aid us in determining what we want for the future. Cassandra Claire became a best-selling author, as labeled by the New York Times, by finding ingenuity among the dead. Cassandra Claire has attained success through her innovating novels while incorporating works of the past with her brilliantly constructed fantasy fiction. Through authors such as Cassandra Claire, it becomes clear that we can broaden our imagination by looking to the past for inspiration. The next time you sit to write a poem, or create art, look to the past and find the work that will inspire you.

~Arlinda Mulosmanaj


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